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Werner von Braun

Posted By: mamabear
Date: Wednesday, 2 December 2009, at 10:21 a.m.

In Response To: Werner von Braun (joe freedman)

From you of all people, I would have expected better referencing than some snark from Lehrer, whose political satire songs are fun, though not excessively profound. I also like that he wrote his own stuff, played his own instrument (piano in his case) and got a long way looking even more nerdly than the (IMO much more talented) Elvis Costello.

But you seem to be emphasizing my point for me. Von Braun was a rocket scientist, not a general or a politician. He developed the V-2 but was not the one who deployed it. However, in the end he surrendered to the Allies and turned over all the plans etc. instead of blowing the stuff up or trying to hide it someplace and escape. He went on to develop the US military's Jupiter missiles, and NASA's Saturn V rocket.

Without the latter, it isn't clear we would have been the first to make a moon landing. It could be argued that it wasn't necessary that we be first or get there at all, but it was a huge issue of national prestige as well as scientific inquiry. There are other good uses for money, yes, but war isn't one of them, though it tends to be the alternative chosen, for whatever reason (or rationalization).

I hope this explains why I think of Von Braun as a sort of "hero" even though his earlier life was anything but untainted. We will never know if he was ever a believer in the Nazi party, or simply a loyal son of his homeland, until he recognized (for whatever reason) that this was wrong--however he defined that. He then ssigned his loyalty instead to a country he could better believe in. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing or disloyalty on his part once he got to the US.

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